This just in: “The long-simmering rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech is being licensed.”
Officials at both state schools have agreed to allow the sale of products that, within the bounds of good taste, disparage each other. Coming soon to a store near you: clothes, pennants, posters and key chains that give either a black eye to the Blacksburg school or a jolt to the jaw of Mr. Jefferson’s University.
Money makes the world go around.
As one shirt soon to go on sale in Charlottesville puts it: “Friends don’t let friends go to Virginia Tech.”
As one soon to be on the shelves in Blacksburg replies: “Friends don’t let friends go to U.Va.”
Those shirts were available when I arrived in Blacksburg in August 1991. However, this is different because college students care about the licensing. And they don’t download music, and they don’t tear that label off the mattress.
Now that there are options, there’s this:
…Tech has allowed only one product to feature the schools’ rivalry at all: a small figurine of a Hokie football player “smushing” his Wahoo counterpart into the ground.
Please tell me we didn’t say “smushing”. It can’t be true. Either we said “crushing his little pea-sized brain” or we said nothing at all. I know it’s true.
Even the lure of money couldn’t coax Virginia Tech into the deal until we joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, as this next quote explains:
“I think the university took the stance that we didn’t want to play up the rivalry,” [Tech licensing director Locke] White said. “It was kind of conservative.”
For some reason, we’ve been looking to the past for our rival. Note to Tech: Virginia has been our main rival for years. Yes, we like to beat West Virginia, but steeeeeeeeeeeeeel. Any local observer in Blacksburg knows that Virginia inspires hatred like no other rivalry.
They refer to their school as The University and Mr. Jefferson’s University. They think we’re rednecks because we have cows. They think they’re brilliant and we’re the 13th grade.
This next quote proves their smugness:
Since both schools have to approve any design, slogan or insult that exploits the rivalry, it’s safe to say the exchanges won’t get too rough.
“I think the fans want this kind of thing,” [Steve Heon, U.Va.’s licensing director] said. “But Virginia’s got to have an opportunity to say, ‘Wait, that’s a little over the top.'”